TMNT Raphael Biography

TMNT Raphael cover photo


Color: Red

Weapons: Sai; Grappling Hook; Smoke Bombs; Ninja Glider

Named After: RaffaelloSanziodaUrbino

Meaning: God has healed

Personality: Aggressive


Cartoon Incarnations


When Raphael gets angry, you don’t want to be nearby.  Whether one of his brothers or a Foot Clan warrior, the hot-headed turtle with turn his temper on anyone around.  But, that doesn’t mean his skills as a ninja should be underestimated, nor should his heart.  He constantly fights to protect those he cares about, especially his brothers.  Even though he teases Michelangelo and Donatello, and constantly fights with Leonardo, there’s nothing that Raph wouldn’t do for any of them at a moment’s notice.  Though he’s had ample opportunity to prove it (and hasn’t really), Raphael still maintains that he would make a more effectively leader than his older brother.  The only things stopping him are his hot head and the fact that he really does work better as an individual (even though he can be a team player when the situation calls for it).


Since the comic first came out, Raphael has been the most aggressive turtle.  He always does exactly what’s needed to get the job done, and like the other turtles had no fear of killing Foot Clan ninjas if needed.  Unlike later versions, though, the comics saw such a bad temper in Raphael that he would actually black out in fits of rage.  Also, one of his strongest relationships was with his littlest brother, Michelangelo.  Though often seen teasing him, Raph would vehemently protect Mikey from anyone who tried to hurt him.


During the 1987 series, Raphael went through the most noticeable character overhaul.  His anger was significantly reduced, and his edge disappeared entirely.  In its place was a dry, sarcastic wit that played better with children.  The rivalry with Leonardo all but disappeared as well, leaving what was really a pale imitation of the character that had been created in the original incarnation.  The only thing that did stick around was his position as the first to charge into battle.  Unfortunately, the others were never far behind, so Raph had no real defining characteristics.


TMNT: The Next Mutationwas trying to develop the turtles along the same lines as their feature film selves, which meant Raphael got some of his edge back.  Unfortunately, that edge was treated as more “rebellious” than “angry”, so his feud with Leonardo, his desire to be leader, and his play for Venus de Milo’s affections were tinged with a sort of James Dean vibe, rather than his killer instinct from the comics.  Fortunately, the 2003 animated series changed much of that.  His temper was back in spades (though he didn’t kill anyone this time), his rivalry with Leonardo drove much of the first two seasons, and he was back to showing his odd mixture of picking on but still caring about Michelangelo and Donatello.  He was loyal to his brothers, but still wanted to be his own turtle, even if that meant disobeying his Master to do what he thought was best.


In the 2012 series, Raphael is the turtle that fans have come to expect over the last 30 years.  His anger, his rivalry, and his wit are all intact, and it makes him not only the first to enter combat, but also the most angst-ridden teenager on the team.  His personality puts him at odds with Leonardo constantly, and the two learning to accept each other and work together has helped both to grow as individuals.  His softer side is present, too, though, as evidenced through his care of his pet turtle, Spike.  He’s had his chance to be team leader when Leonardo has gone through an identity crisis (and he learned just how difficult it is to make the tough calls in the midst of danger), and he’s even discovered how much trouble his anger can cause (seeing Slash latch onto it and hurt his brothers, and seeing Casey beat a guy to within an inch of his life).


The extent of Raphael’s temper in the movies was focused on disobeying Splinter’s orders.  Even though that was often directed at Leonardo, it sprang from his problem with the rat master’s orders.  He would often go rogue, but it would always end in him being hurt, and forcing his brothers to come to his rescue. 


Movie Incarnations


Raphael’s anger is always open to debate.  Whether it springs from actual rage, a disinterest in authority, or some sort of self-consciousness, it is ever-present and the focus of many disputes among the family.  If it does stem from self-consciousness, then that makes Raph something of a stereotype: He’s the short, stocky brother with a bad attitude.  It’s almost as if he walked out of a dance club in a movie, and someone made fun of him for being short.  While there was probably no intention to make him like that, there’s something about his appearance and personality that just seem to work well together (which we can probably thank Hollywood for).


Of all the turtles, Raphael is perhaps the most static.  The 2012 series has added a lot to his character, and there have been flashes of other traits over the years, but he’s always associated with his anger, and it’s always played up as his most important (or at least driving) characteristic.  Fortunately, recent episodes have shown more growth in overcoming his anger, or at least understanding how problematic it can be.  But sometimes all it takes to comprehend an issue is to see it present in another (like Slash or Casey).  Still missing from any version, though, is a showcase of Raph using his anger to be a better ninja.  He never once focuses it or uses it to better accomplish a mission.  When he can, he will truly have embraced and worked through his fatal flaw.


Despite being one dimensional in a lot of respects, Raphael shows a lot of potential.  His ninja skills are only surpassed by Leonardo, and while that causes a lot of friction, it also provides the most respect.  Leo and Raph both understand their skill, and look at each other as sort of the “A-Team” when it comes to entering battle and kicking butt.  Raphael will often uses his skills when he’s on his own, though, especially in situations where he’s on patrol to cool off, or as in the fourth movie when he brings vigilante justice to NYC.  Really the only thing perceived as keeping him down in terms of success is the shadow cast by his older brother.  If he could overcome that feeling, odds are that he’d be able to truly flourish as a ninja and individual.  But the fault isn’t only on Raph.  Leonardo believes that strict training is the only way to be a ninjutsu master, and he won’t accept that each individual (and turtle) has his own way of finding and measuring success.  Their idiosyncrasies may be completely out of tune, but they still have that respect for ability.  If they can simply find that acceptance of what each has to offer ninja training, then they will finally overcome their differences and able to work toward a stronger ninja team.


The greatest detriment to Raphael’s character has come from lack of opportunity to showcase any real emotion other than anger.  While the 2003 and 2012 series have helped in that regard, Raph is still little more than his temper.  Unfortunately, when stories have to be told in 20 minutes, and each of 5-10 characters has to see some action and do something useful, there’s not a whole lot of time for individualization.  (It also doesn’t help when one of the incarnations is nothing but a 10-season toy commercial, and there was no care given to character or plot development.)  However, it looks like Raphael will get more opportunity to shine as an individual, and he’ll always be a better character for it.




Raphael is deeply afraid of cockroaches.


There is no ninjutsu discipline dealing strictly with sai technique, though juttejutsu most likely adapted to be used with that weapon (as the jutte resembles the sai).


Donatello is the one brother Raphael has no real issue with.


Raphael’s pet turtle, Spike, was mutated into Slash, who also resembles the mutant snapping turtle Tokka.

  • Joshua Rollins

    i feel that you have over looked a lot of Raphael’s history & have come too much to a conclusion about him. A lot of the comic book stories go into deeper details about him, as well as talking about his Future story plots. in most stories, Raph has beaten Leo in physical fights & also has more experience being in the out side world than the other Turtles. i hope you can look more into Raph’s history come with a better updated Bio.

    • Ghenesa Paulma

      I see what you mean.. And, I am often confused about Raph had already learned a lesson and then the lesson was now forgotten in the next episode. But he is often kind to his brothers and often having fun like Mikey.

      • Joshua Rollins

        I know, that also goes with the other Turtles. One other thing i find interesting is how in the comics, & some times other media, Raph ends up being the Last Turtles to survive out of the main four after some big event in the story.

  • sabrina

    i needed to know more,i am getting stuck with this series of turtles,this helps a lot!

    • admin

      So happy to hear Sabrina! We will continue to provide more info on the art of Ninjutsu.

  • hope

    Raphael is awesome and my favorite turtle. You have WAYYYY overlooked him. He is the only turtle that makes the show intresting, (besides michealangelo.

    • admin


      We agree that Raphael is totally awesome! Please tell us if we missed a specific detail.

    • mynameisnotmegan

      I agree

  • TMNT Fan

    Why doesraph always think punching is going to help? it doesnt and he needs to learn that.

    • admin

      Raphael has always had a temper that he sometimes cannot control, his anger helps him win and lose battles sometimes.

    • kazan

      what the shell?
      dude thats his thing

      • TMNT Fan

        well im sorry

  • TMNT Fan


  • TMNT Fan

    Why is Raph so angry? What makes him so angry?

  • Rebecca

    Raph is the coolest turtle of them all. He can beat anyone up, and he’s got a cool little turtle, Spike. It’s funny the way he talks to Spike, ‘it’s adorable’ (in the words of Mikey)

    • kazan

      well said

  • Taylor Ness

    I think that another reason that Raphael is so strong is because he wants to be able to protect his brothers from danger and you need to be pretty strong for you to protect someone. So with the fear of his brothers safety might push him to be the big, strong, tough kind of guy.

  • breyer

    i wonder what is going to happen when casey jones appears….?

  • mynameisnotmegan

    what about mona and ninjara? what about his love life?